Microwave Alternatives (How To Easily Replace Your Microwave!)

microwave alternatives

Microwave ovens are a mainstay in modern kitchens but you may not want a microwave in your home.

A common problem is the idea of having electromagnetic radiation cook food. The metal inner walls should reflect all radiation back inwards but some people don’t trust that. And I don’t think the idea of “nuking” food helps any.

Another common criticism is that microwaving destroys nutrients and minerals in the food in a way that more natural cooking methods do not.

They are used for so much, like reheating leftovers, defrosting meat, popping popcorn or softening butter, that it seems like nothing else would be able to replace it.

Actually, there are a number of useful options that can substitute for a microwave to still fulfill the main functions, sometimes at the expense of a little extra effort. We’re going to look at many of the alternatives on the market.

Microwave alternatives

  1. Toaster Oven
  2. Stovetop
  3. Crock pot / slow cooker
  4. Pressure Cooker
  5. Convection Oven
  6. Dutch Oven

All of the above can fulfill certain functions of the microwave, depending on what you use it for. for more information about each of these, read on down!


1
Toaster Oven

Best for: Quickly reheating leftovers

A simple replacement for the microwave is a toaster oven. These come at a similar size and shape to a countertop microwave, and can usually be put in the exact same place.

A toaster oven works just like a normal oven, so it uses electricity to create a hot temperature inside the oven which cooks or heats the food by conduction from the hot air. Toaster ovens warm up much more quickly than a large, convection oven so they can be useful for small tasks that only take a few minutes.

This makes it great for reheating leftovers or heating up small meals. It’ll be faster than a normal oven but will still take longer than a microwave. Do bear in mind that you can’t use plastic in it like you can with a microwave, as the natural heat will make it melt!

Pros

  • Usually the exact same size and shape as a microwave oven.
  • Warms up very quickly.
  • Good for leftovers or small meals.

Cons

  • Not as powerful as a traditional oven.
  • Can’t use plastic in it.

2
Stovetop

Best for: Cooking veggies, heating liquids like soup or gravies

The stovetop is a useful alternative to a microwave oven because almost everyone has one. This building block of the kitchen has many uses, some of them overlapping with what you’d use a microwave for.

One convenient use of the microwave is heating up fresh, frozen or tinned vegetables quickly and easily without any high calorie oils. The stovetop can fill in here by cooking vegetables and the browning and crisping can make the vegetables much more tasty than simply nuking them. You will want to use some kind of oil to stop it sticking or to add taste, healthy olive oil with its good fats are an option, also a low calorie oil spray is useful too.

Another use of the stovetop is to heat up liquids. Things like soup or gravies that you might throw into the microwave can be just as easily heated up, albeit a little slower, by putting it on a low heat. This gives you much more control over how hot the food gets and how it tastes. It makes it easy to season too. After all, there’s a reason why real chefs don’t like to use the microwave.

Pros

  • Everyone already has one.
  • Makes veggies taste even better than a microwave.
  • Gives you more control as you watch your food while it heats.

Cons

  • More cleaning up.

3
Crock pot / slow cooker

Best for: reheating large meals / dishes

Believe it or not, your crock pot can be used for some of the functions of a microwave. It’s larger size makes it ideals for heating or reheating large meals like stews or curries, which it will cook thoroughly and consistently, unlike a microwave with its hot and cool spots.

The big disadvantage of slow cookers is the slow cooking time (obviously). You need to plan ahead and make sure you have the timing right. In some respects, it’s the opposite of the microwave with its fast and convenient cooking. On the other hand, a slow cooker uses a low, steady heat over a long period of time.

Pros

  • Large size makes cooking and reheating larger dishes easy.
  • Easy to store away when not in use.
  • Consistent and even heat.

Cons

  • Slow to cook and reheat.

4
Pressure Cooker

Best for: reheating meals / dishes

the pressure cooking is very similar to a slow cooker in a number of ways, with the difference that it uses pressure to do the cooking over a matter of minutes rather than hours. So the function that it is best at replacing is the same as the slow cooker, large dishes like stews or curries.

The downside to pressure cookers is they are more expensive than a slow cooker and most people don’t already have them – although this is changing with the widespread adoption of the Instant Pot, a popular brand of pressure cooker.

Pros

  • Excellent at heating and reheating large dishes.
  • Fast cooking times.
  • Consistent and even heat.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Not too many people will have them already.

5
Oven

Best for: defrosting / thawing foods

A convection oven is the staple of any kitchen and can step in to a microwave’s place for a number of reasons. Ovens, with their high heat, can cook lots of foods straight from frozen. Throw some frozen sausages in the oven for instance, and you’ll have perfectly cooked ones in 20 minutes. This negates the need to use a microwave for defrosting / thawing. (Do be careful with thicker pieces of meat as you need the center to be cooked through.)

In fact, almost anything that can be heated or reheated using a microwave can be done similarly with an oven. It simply takes longer and you can’t put plastic in it. If you care about having a more natural healing method then this shouldn’t be a problem though.

Pros

  • Most people already have one.
  • Can cook almost anything.

Cons

  • Can take a while to warm up.
  • Can’t use plastic containers.

6
Dutch Oven

Best for: large dishes

A dutch oven is a less common way to cook foods which is a shame because it’s so useful. It works in conjunction with your stovetop, you put the dutch oven on the heat and the food inside gets cooked. It’s great for large dishes, like casseroles, stews or curries.

When it comes to replacing microwaves it can do some things but not everything. It’s pretty useful if you already have one but if you’re looking for a tailor made microwave replacement then the other items on this list will give you more functionality.

Pros

  • Very simple cooking method.

Cons

  • Most people don’t have one.
  • Doesn’t replace as much function of a microwave compared to other methods on this list.

Black And Decker Microwave Reviews 2020

black and decker microwave review

When buying a new microwave, it’s important to get the right appliance for your kitchen at home. A solid microwave is about more than just nuking yesterday’s leftovers, you can use your microwave to defrost, pop popcorn, soften butter or melt chocolate or loads of other useful shortcuts in your cooking.

Today we’re looking at the Black & Decker line of microwaves. We’ve researched and reviewed all these options for this article to help you choose the best microwave for your home. We’ve looked at buying factors like reliability, ease of use, features and power output to determine the best consumer recommendations in this category.

Black And Decker Microwave Review

Black & Decker are an awesome brand for microwave ovens. Its line of microwaves occupy the mid to lower end, so not as feature-rich as some companies, but it offers awesome reliability at a modest price point.

It offers, for my money, the best value microwave oven out there.

What We Liked

  • Fantastic reputation for reliability and longevity of microwaves
  • Excellent range of microwaves across the budget to mid-tier range
  • Simple to use for any kind of person

What We Didn’t Like

  • No option for large microwaves
  • Not as many features as other brands offer (albeit at a higher price)

The Basics

Black & Decker occupies the low to mid range of the market. Their smallest microwave is a pure budget option with a modest size of just 0.7 cubic feet and 700W. Sizes go up from there with lots to choose from, all the way up to the more beefy 1000W options with the largest being 1.4 cubic feet, twice the capacity of the smallest.

The microwaves themselves are very competitively priced compared to similar options from other brands, one of the plus points of Black & Decker.

The models they offer are:

Black & Decker EM720CB7 – 700W with 0.7 cu. ft and 10″ turntable
Black & Decker EM925AB9 – 900W with 0.9 cu. ft and 10.6″ turntable
Black & Decker EM720CB7 – 1000W with 1.1 cu. ft and 12.4″ turntable
Black & Decker EM720CB7 – 1000W with 1.4 cu. ft and 12.4″ turntable

Features

The Black & Decker offer no nonsense microwaves. You get a modest amount of features at a modest price point.

That’s not to say the Black & Decker is completely featureless. It offers a number of pre-programmed buttons to help you cook the most common items with none of the hassle. Those options are popcorn, potato, pizza, frozen vegetable, beverage and dinner plate.

For low power settings, you are given ten different power levels in increments of 10% from 10% to 100%, that’s a lot of control over low power modes like defrosting, melting or softening foods.

The microwaves themselves come with a child safety lock to stop children messing around with it while it’s not in use, too.

A “+30 seconds button” completes the set, useful for quickly and conveniently adding an extra 30 seconds in one button push.

(Note: these features do change slightly depending on the model. Click the links to check out the exact features each microwave offers.)

Ease of use

The Black & Decker microwaves have a gorgeous black and stainless steel colored exterior with keypad input and LED clock/countdown timer.

The interface is simple, you are not drowned in loads of options like some other microwaves. And the options it does have are clearly marked like you can see the “+30 second button” in the photo above.

One potential issue is the keypad doesn’t light up from behind, so be careful if you’re planning to put the microwave in a dark part of your kitchen as you may not be able to make the buttons out easily.

Reliability

Black & Decker has a stellar reputation for reliability. Reports of issues and breakdowns with their microwaves are reassuringly rare and this is backed up with a superb average rating on Amazon of 4.3. You even get a full one year warranty on all parts.

It’s one of the reasons I find myself recommending the brand again and again. If you’re looking for a no frills microwave that is built to last and could give you a decade’s worth of service without worrying about repairs or issues, Black & Decker have shown themselves to be a solid brand.

Overall

We can wholeheartedly recommend the Black & Decker line of microwaves. You get a range of options, all of which are easy to use and will do the job well. If you’re looking for a solid microwave that’ll do its job for years and years, you’re in the right place.

Click here to learn more and purchase. That link shows one of the models but it’s easy enough to find the smaller or larger ones.

Breville Quick Touch Microwave Review 2020

breville quick touch microwave review

A microwave oven is a key appliance in any kitchen. Often used for heating up simple foods or reheating yesterday’s leftovers but with lots of niche uses like popping popcorn or melting chocolate, the microwave is super useful for families to have around the house.

This review article is a comprehensive analysis of the Breville Quick Touch Microwave. We’ve looked at factors like features, ease of use and reliability to give a full roundup of the best bits of this particular microwave oven. Read on for a full consumer report of this product.

Breville Quick Touch Microwave Review

The Breville Quick Touch is a fantastic microwave oven that is unlike anything else on the market. Its standout features are the LED display, packed with information, and wide range of other useful functions.

The price does come in at the top end of the range, but as always, you get what you pay for.

What We Liked

  • Very high power output
  • Fantastic and unique LED display
  • Simple but intuitive user interface
  • Fantastic range of features

What We Didn’t Like

  • Surface can scratch easily
  • Price range is definitely on the premium side

The Basics

The Breville is a smart and modern looking microwave, having a simultaneous “retro but futuristic” aesthetic and stainless steel interior.

Its interface looks simple, using mostly dials and a few buttons, but packs a lot in, as we’ll get to in the next section.

The LED display is among the best on the market, showing lots of information like weight, cook time and power level. That last one is nice as you’ll never accidentally use defrost instead of high – an easy mistake to make with microwaves.

The microwave comes in one size and power option, so no choice here. The capacity is 1.2 cubic feet with a 12.3″ diameter turntable which makes it a medium sized oven. The power output is excellent at 1100W which will make cooking speeds almost as fast as any microwave you can buy.

There are reports of cosmetic issues, unfortunately, where the painted metal on the microwave scratches off. So keep that in mind if you choose to buy this one.

Features

The Breville scores highly in quantity and quality of features. The most notable ones are as follows.

  • Sensor reheating. Called “Sensor IQ” by Breville, sensor reheating detects humidity levels to work out the amount of time before your food is perfectly cooked. No need for guesswork on how much time to add. Just set it off and come back to perfectly heated food.
  • Lots of preset modes. On the inside of the door (shown below) you can see a number of pre-programmed options to quickly do common microwave tasks like popping popcorn or softening butter. You even get one option to save your own personal preset!
  • “+30 seconds button”. Use this to easily add on time or to do a convenient quick start by hitting the button a few times to set the amount of time you want.
  • Ten power levels. You get full control of power in 10% increments going from 10% all the way up to 100%.
  • Volume adjustment. In case you don’t like annoying, loud beeps.
  • “A bit more.” button. That adds on a touch more time calculated depending on previous time and power setting. And yes, it’s really called that.

Ease Of Use

The Breville scores highly for ease of use thanks to its simple but intuitive interface. Unlike many modern microwaves, the Breville uses a dial to select options rather than a keypad.

This makes the interface much less cluttered and works really well. It’s very simple to select what you want. You have one smaller dial to select power setting between 10% and 100% and then a larger dial that selects the amount of time.

The display is fantastic, showing far more information than any other microwave that we’ve reviewed. One example is that you can see your power level on the LED display so you’ll never accidentally use defrost 30% power when you want high 100% power.

Keeping many of the buttons on the inside of the microwave when you open the door is a nice touch that improves the aesthetic of the oven to no real detriment when you’re using it. After all, you’ll need to open the microwave at some point to put your food in.

Reliability

The Breville models are a solid bet for reliability with few issues of breakdowns or faulty parts. This is evident in good (if not perfect) Amazon reviews and ratings. You can click here to read more. In short, there are a number of complaints about the high price, and a few about issues with the display not working properly.

This is all backed up with a full one year warranty on all parts.

Is It Safe To Microwave Food Without Cover?

can you microwave food without cover?

Lots of prepackaged food tells you to use a film lid or to cover your food when you use a microwave. But do you really need to do that?

Is it safe to microwave food without cover?

No, it isn’t always safe to microwave food without cover.

A cover on the container that you put in the microwave keeps steam and heat inside.

If you don’t cover it then the food may not heat to the right temperature to kill all harmful pathogens. This is particularly the case if you are following instructions on the side of a packet or box.

Using a cover also prevents spurts and splats from landing on the inner surface of your microwave. These can build up and cause bacteria to grow which can end up in future meals.

Are you likely to encounter problems if you don’t use a cover? Probably not. But is there a risk, however small, that not using a cover might lead to unsafe conditions and harmful pathogens in your food.

Be smart, use a cover in the microwave. Particularly if you’re reading instructions that tell you to use one.

Reasons why we cover food in the microwave

There are a number of reasons why we use a cover with food in the microwave, here they are along with whether it’s safe to not use a cover.

  1. Directions on packaged food. The makers of quick ready meals design the cooking instructions to strict specifications to make sure they are fully heated and taste their best as well as being safe for consumption. If you don’t follow the instructions then you can’t guarantee it will be safe. Unsafe
  2. Dishes that use steam. If you are cooking steamed vegetables in the microwave – a simple and useful tool for the microwave – they will not cook properly if you don’t use a cover as the steam will dissipate throughout the oven rather than be contained in a tight and hot space which cooks the food. Rice is another example of food that cooks a lot better with a cover, even if safety isn’t affected. Safe
  3. Thawing meat. If the directions for thawing meat say you should cover the food it’s because it traps heat and cooks it quicker. If you don’t do this then the meat may not be fully defrosted and thus may not cook through as it will have cool spots – a real danger with meats in particular. Unsafe
  4. To prevent splatter on the inside of the microwave. Some foods that you heat in a microwave will burst and pop as they are heated, liquids like soups and curries are really bad for this. This food then ends up on the wall or roof of the microwave and may build up bacteria and other undesirables which may end up in the next dish you or your family uses the microwave for. Unsafe

Should I cover food when reheating?

If you’re doing some general defrosting or reheating – without specific instructions – you might wonder whether you should microwave the food without the cover.

With liquid foods, it’s generally a good idea to cover to spot unhygienic splatters going across the inside of your microwave.

With foods that cook using steam like fish or vegetables, then you definitely should cover. If you don’t do this the food will cook painfully slowly.

With most other foods, it doesn’t make a huge difference, although you may find slightly faster cooking times with a cover, again this is down to the steam that is produced when you heat up your food.

why does the microwave spin

How to cover food in the microwave

The main thing to remember when covering food in a microwave is to make sure there is some kind of vent or hole for steam to escape from.

Microwaves work by heating up the water in your food, turning it into steam. If you cover food then that steam will build up and can cause mini explosions – not ideal.

There’s a reason that film lids are supposed to be pierced when used in microwaves. It’s so steam can be released when you cook your foods, particularly the more liquid ones, and the pressure from the steam will build up and cause mini explosions inside your oven.

Whatever kind of cover you use, make sure there is some way for steam to escape, even if it means the plate is a bit lopsided on your container.

Some specially built containers will have specific steam holes that let steam out, some even have adjustable ones so you can change how much steam is in and so how quickly it cooks. Check some out here.

Do covers on microwaves reflect the waves?

In a word, no. The materials that you should be using for covers are ceramic, glass or plastic. These all mostly let microwaves pass straight through and reflect very little.

This is in contrast to metal which you should never use in a microwave as it reflects large amounts of microwaves.

As such, it is perfectly safe and practical to use covers as it doesn’t affect the waves or the cooking.

Other common safety tips for a microwave

Some of the best safety tips for microwave use. Stay healthy, follow these.

  1. Use microwavable materials. Glass and ceramic are the safest materials to use in a microwave as the waves themselves will pass straight through. Plastic is good too but only if it says “microwave safe” or equivalent somewhere on them – you don’t want BPA or other plastics leaching into your food. Metals are a big no-no, they cause energy buildup that leads to flashes and mini-explosions.
  2. Cook foods to safe temperatures. The biggest piece of advice I could give to someone concerned about their or their family’s safety when using the microwave is to always overcook the food then let it stand. For food to be safe, it should be heated to a temperature of 167°F or 75°C. If you can’t use a thermometer then just make sure the food is piping hot and give it 2-3 minutes to stand for the heat to dissipate. High heat kills harmful pathogens that can cause illness or food poisoning.
  3. Be careful when taking the container out. One of the leading causes of accidents from microwaves is burns caused by people handling containers that are too hot or spilling them because they can’t hold the container. A quick test of how hot the container is, using the back of your hand, goes a long way.
  4. Spread your food out. The biggest reason why you will get cool or even icy spots in your food is because the food is thick or dense. Microwaves can only penetrate 1-2 cm into food so if you’re cooking a big plate of something then try to spread the food out so the heat gets evenly distributed rather than burning the outside and leaving the interior icy cold.

LG Neochef Microwave Oven Reviews 2020

lg neochef review

Nowadays, every kitchen has a microwave oven, it’s one of the most common appliances at home. Useful for heating, reheating, defrosting, it’s just as good for warming up day old leftovers as it is for cooking meals from scratch. Modern microwaves come with some nifty quality of life additions and advanced tech which we’re going to examine today.

This review article is going to look at the LG Neochef line of microwaves. We’ve researched LG’s microwaves so you don’t have to, analyzing important buying factors like ease of use, reliability, quantity and quality of features, and safety.

The LG Neochef, with its unique features, will appeal to many buyers. Combine it with high power and a good range of sizes and types and you have a solid range of microwaves.

In particular, buy one of these and you can look forward to the super convenient LG Smart Inverter and sensor reheating.

LG occupy the higher end of the market for microwave ovens, so you can expect larger microwaves combined with high power and ultra fast cooking times.

The LG microwaves excel in their sensor cooking, which uses humidity to automatically work out the right time for your food to be perfectly heated. No guesswork at all!

It even offers unique features you won’t find with other microwave brands like antibacterial coating on the inside of the microwave and a steady, six pronged turntable.

Put all of this together and it gets a big thumbs up. This is a quality purchase that will last years.

You can check them out here.

How does the “LG Smart Inverter” work?

The LG Smart Inverter is an example of microwave inverter technology which promises to deliver even and consistent heating on low power modes.

Typical, older microwaves deliver low power, like you might get when defrosting, by switching the magnetron on and off again continuously. Whereas inverter technology uses a neat trick to apply steady and consistent low power.

Putting it all together… with the LG Neochefs you know that any time you use your microwave oven on lower power, you’re getting actual low power. This will result in more consistent cooking and more thoroughly and evenly heated foods.

Sensor reheating – why you should buy a modern microwave

The great wonder of modern microwave technology is sensor reheating, called “Sensor Cooking” with LG. If you’ve tried this before, you’ll know what a dream it is to use.

For the uninitiated, sensor reheating works by putting your food in, selecting what type of food it is then pressing “Start”. That’s it.

The microwave can work out how hot the food is based on a humidity sensor and uses that to work out the exact time it should cook for. No guesswork trying to find the right time, or putting it in for an extra 20 seconds three times in a row.

The LG Neochef offers a staggering amount of options of sensor reheating that you can see in the photos.

Other features

Among the LG Neochef range’s other useful features are:

Smoothtouch controls. The Lg microwaves are stunning to look at and part of that is their beautiful keypad, check picture below. This glass control pad is specially designed to be super easy to use as well as being easy to clean.

“Easyclean” + antibacterial coating. the LG microwaves sell themselves on being very easy to clean, a simple wipe being enough in most cases of grime or something setting in. Their antibacterial coating helps with this, as well as giving you peace of mind on the hygiene of your microwave.

Six pronged turntable. You know how sometimes your turntable will slip off its three prongs and it’s kind of a hassle to get it back on? Well LG has pioneered a steadier six pronged turntable that avoids these headaches. It also means if you set a cup on the side of the turntable, you don’t risk it tipping over.

Bright LED light. The light inside the microwave is particularly bright, making it easy to see what’s inside and how close it is to being ready. Also handy for remembering you have something going on in there. It’s so bright you can hardly forget about it.

Power output

The LG Neochef offers a flat 1200W power output across the entire range. This is a powerful wattage, as high as anything you’ll see outside of commercial use.

Historically, microwave ovens hovered around 700-900W with a 900W being considered powerful. So the modern microwaves that offer 1200W are very powerful. Power output affects your cooking time. More power = faster cooking. So these 1200W microwaves will give you blazing fast cooking and reheating times.

With LG Neochef, even the smallest microwaves have the same power. This makes it a great choice if you want the convenience of a high powered microwave but don’t have space for a 2.2 cubic feet monster.

What models are available?

The LG Neochef range offers a number of models to account for size options with the features staying mostly constant. If you go for the smallest one, do check however as they have to remove a few buttons from the keypad due to the size.

Here are the main options in the countertop LG Neochef range. You can look here for more on the LG over-the-range microwaves of which they offer a lot.

– LG Neochef LMC0975ST – 1040W / 0.9 cubic feet with 11.5″ turntable
– LG Neochef – 1040W / 1.2 cubic feet with 14.2″ turntable
– LG Neochef – 1250W / 1.5 cubic feet with 14.2″ turntable
– LG Neochef – 1250W / 2.0 cubic feet with 16″ turntable

Each of these models comes with the option of stainless steel or black stainless steel finishes.

Reliability

LG has a solid reputation when it comes to reliability. As always, one of the best clues is to browse the thousands of consumer reports on Amazon to find common trends or themes in regards to issues, faulty parts or breakdowns. I’m happy to say that LG delivers in this respect, with a reassuringly few amount of problems from existing buyers. Click the link to read more.

LG offers a 1 year warranty on their microwaves and a 10 year warranty on the magnetron of the microwave – the longest available on major microwave brands.

Overall

We think the LG Neochef is a solid purchase. In terms of features, it knocks it out of the park with the sensor reheating being a particular favorite and the antibacterial coating and six pronged turntable being nice features you can’t find anywhere else.

Click here to if you like the sound of all this and want to buy it.

Not what you’re looking for?

If you’d like to browse more brands and options for microwaves then it’s a no brainer to check out this article, my recently updated and comprehensive review and roundup of the best countertop microwaves on the market. It includes LG and their Neochef range and compares them to all the other brand’s offerings so you can make the best choice.

Why Does The Microwave Spin? (All Your Questions Answered)

why does the microwave spin

Your microwave oven spins around and around when it heats up food.

But you don’t need your food to spin when you use an oven, or a toaster, or slow cooker. So what is unique about this way of cooking?

Why does the microwave spin?

Your microwave oven heats up food by using microwaves which are a type of radiation, technically short length radio waves.

This radiation is produced by the magnetron and bounces around inside the microwave, reflecting back in off the metal inner walls, until it gets absorbed by food or water.

These waves tend to focus on certain points where they are higher in energy, while also having points where the energy is much lower.

The heat is not evenly distributed like it would be with a convection oven, for instance. Radio waves are a few inches in wavelength which makes the difference between the higher energy waves noticeable in the size of a microwave.

All microwaves are fitted with a “wave stirrer” that helps distribute the waves around the oven, but it’s impossible to make it perfect.

All microwave ovens need to spin (or rotate) to allow these high energy focus points to be spread around the food. This distributes the heat evenly throughout the food.

What happens if the microwave doesn’t spin?

If a microwave doesn’t spin it’s not the end of the world.

Maybe you’ve tried cooking something without a turntable or where the turntable wasn’t on properly so wasn’t turning? If you had, you’d notice that your food still gets cooked. You might not even notice a difference.

Even in the best of conditions, and with a rotating turntable, the microwave heats up certain parts more than others.

If you eat the food straight from the microwave you might notice annoying cool spots and hot spots. To avoid this, follow the good microwave practice of stirring your food (if possible) and leaving to stand for 2-3 minutes upon finishing. This gives the food the best chance to spread the heat out through conduction.

Actually, microwaves don’t even have to rotate. The original microwave ovens from decades ago didn’t even rotate at all. The rotating turntable was introduced by some smart cookie to reduce hot and cool spots. Everyone else soon followed suit.

A visual demonstration of why your microwave spins

You cannot see the waves in a microwave as that particular type of electromagnetic radiation (radio waves) is completely invisible. You can however try this neat experiment to see exactly what’s going on in your microwave instead.

Simply choose a food that can be easily melted while still holding its form as it melts, such as chocolate or cheese, put it on a plate and see how it melts.

This is the results from my microwave:

[can’t do this right now because I can’t get to the store because of damn coronavirus. will update when I can]

Interestingly, you can use this to measure the speed of light! You can see a great video on that here.

You can actually measure the waves formed in a microwave that isn’t turning food. Take a microwaveable tray that fits in the bottom of the microwave. Line it with one layer of marshmallows . you want the marshmallows to cover the tray evenly so take the time to lay them side by side. Put it in the microwave and turn on for a few seconds.

You will see where the waves have made some spots start to cook or melt while others are untouched. Measure the distance between the cooked sections and you can get a good idea of where the hot spots are in that microwave.

These types of ovens are why microwaveable foods often instruct to turn them after a certain amount of time so everything cooks evenly. Microwaves with a rotating tray take care of that automatically.

One other use of the turntable

An interesting second use of the glass turntable that I discovered while doing my research for this article is here. Basically, the waves that bounce around inside your microwave can be quite dangerous to your microwave apparatus, particularly the magnetron.

If there is no food or water, or very little, these microwaves will bounce around until they get absorbed, eventually by the magnetron, potentially causing it damage and breaking your microwave.

The glass turntable serves as an absorbent sponge that can absorb these microwaves if there is little food or water to absorb them, keeping your microwave safe. You can test this by seeing how hot the glass turntable gets when there is no food inside the oven.

What happens if my microwave spins the other way?

A small percentage of microwaves will stop and reverse the direction of rotation of their turntable partway through cooking. The reason for this is nothing to do with heat distribution or anything else I’ve talked about, but just a peculiarity of the design.

Basically it’s to do with cheap motors that want to use as little energy to start moving in a certain direction. After a certain point, it’s less energy to start reversing the way it was turning. A fuller, and much better, explanation can be found here.

Inverter Microwave Vs Convection Microwave (Head To Head)

inverter microwave vs convection microwave

Microwave ovens are awesome appliances for your kitchen. As well as reheating and defrosting, modern microwaves offer tons of great features to help out budding chefs including options to soften butter, pop popcorn or thaw meat. Two of those features you might be interested in are Inverter Technology or a convection element.

This article is going to compare “inverter microwaves” that come equipped with advanced Inverter Technology with “convection microwaves” that have a built in convection oven heating element. We’ve researched and reviewed the best microwave ovens available to give a comprehensive comparison of these two types of microwaves. Under the microscope are reliability, ease of use, features and of course an in depth treatment of the inverter and convection functions of the respective microwaves.


What’s the difference between inverter microwave vs convection microwave?

Inverter microwave – this is used to describe a microwave that has Inverter Technology. This technology was invented and patented by Panasonic, so most Inverter microwaves come from them.

When normal microwaves run at a low power, for defrosting say, they approximate a 30% power by turning off and then on again repeatedly. You can even hear the magnetron switch on and off while the microwave is running.

On the other hand. Inverter Technology delivers a steady stream of lower power that gives smoother, more consistent heating and reheating that ends up in fewer burnt edges or cool spots in your food.

Convection microwave – this is used to describe a microwave oven that also has a convection heating element, like that found in a traditional oven. This means you have a 2-in-1 appliance that saves space while offering excellent functionality.

The best convection microwaves allow you to use the microwave heating and convection heating at the same time. This is perfect for those foods where the hotter convection element can brown, melt or crisp.

For example, reheating pizza is great in a convection microwave because the dough gets crisped and the cheese gets melted.


Should I get an inverter microwave or convection microwave?

Which type of microwave you choose comes down to your personal circumstances. There are good reasons to get either.

Reasons to get an inverter microwave:

– You do a lot of defrosting or other low power modes
– You care about consistency of heating in your foods

Reasons to get a convection microwave:

– You don’t have an oven / space for an oven
– You want to be able to brown or crisp things that you put in the microwave


Are there any microwaves with both convection and inverter technology?

As of right now, there are no brands that offer both convection and inverter technology in the same microwave oven. Each of these features is highly regarded and comes with an equally high price tag. You’re looking at an extra $100 for either feature on a microwave. I suppose no company has thought there is a market for a microwave with both.


Best Inverter Microwave

The Panasonic line of microwaves is the best choice for inverter technology. These occupy the top end of the market and offer a wide range of bonuses and features including the prized Inverter Technology and its steady stream of consistent heating.

You have a number of choices in capacity or size, your choice depends on how large your kitchen is and how much space you have for a microwave.

Larger microwaves allow you to put larger plates, bowls and dishes and consequently to heat larger amounts of food. Generally speaking, a 1.1 cubic feet is a typical size of a microwave and the largest of the Panasonics goes up to a whopping 2.2 cubic feet. The price goes up, the larger you go.

Unfortunately, Panasonic and other Inverter brands don’t offer smaller budget microwaves.

The models of Microwave offered by Panasonic are:

Panasonic Compact – 1200W / 1.2 cubic feet with 13.4″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN686S – 1200W / 1.2 cubic feet with 13.4″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN766S – 1250W / 1.6 cubic feet with 15″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN966S – 1250W / 2.2 cubic feet with 16.5″ turntable

The Panasonic line has a consistent power output of 1200-1250W whereas normal home microwaves might be 700-900W. This means that whatever Panasonic you choose, you will get high power and blazing fast cooking times. Microwave power works in a linear fashion, so 1250W is almost twice as fast as 700W power.

The Panasonics come with tons of other features. Most notable is the “Genius Sensor” which is their name for sensor reheating, one of the great breakthroughs in modern microwave technology. Basically, you put your food in, select what type of food it is (“bread”, “meat” and so on) and the microwave will automatically heat it.

You don’t need to choose a time or check when it is done. The microwave monitors humidity levels to work out when it is the perfect temperature. Pretty neat.

Other extras are a “Keep Warm” features to take the pain out of keeping gravies, soups or sauces warm while you manage the rest of the meal. “Turbo defrost” for rapid thawing times when you can’t wait.

And little options like a dedicated “soften butter” button that means you can take butter out the fridge and have it ready to be spread with just one button press.

Lastly, Panasonic is a trusted brand when it comes to reliability of their microwave ovens. Reports of breakdowns or other issues are reassuringly rare and it all comes backed up with a 1-year warranty and a 5-year warranty on the magnetron itself. You can buy this with peace of mind knowing you won’t be ruining your weekend having to get it fixed.

Read more, and to find out how to buy here.


Best microwave with convection element

Our choice for the best microwave with a convection element comes from Samsung. A Korean brand, most Samsung microwaves offer this feature as standard.

The Samsung microwave ovens have two modes, one that can be used at the same time as the microwave oven and one the can be used separately.

So you can turn the oven on when reheating foods that need some browning or crisping but you also have the option of using it as a standalone oven.

This comes in very useful in places with small kitchens like dorms, HCOL city apartments or anywhere else where you don’t have space for a dedicated oven.

The models offered by Samsung are:

Samsung MG14H3020CM microwave with grill – 950W with 1.4 cu. ft.
Samsung MG11H2020CT microwave with grill – 1000W with 1.1 cu. ft.

Samsung is a respected brand in the microwave world and with their convection microwaves offer something that’ll come in very useful to a certain type of consumer. Click the link to read more and to find out how to buy.

17 Genius Microwave Hacks That’ll Level Up Your Cooking (Infographic)

microwave hacks

Cooking is a hard job. When you prepare food it takes a lot of work to get a simple meal onto a plate (and of course no-one appreciates it!)

So wouldn’t it be useful to have a few shortcuts around the kitchen?

The following infographic(s) are full of our best tips and tricks for getting the most out of your trusty microwave.

How many of them do you know?

To easily share this on your website, just copy and paste the following code:

<a href="https://hearthofgold.com/microwave-hacks/"><img src="https://hearthofgold.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Microwave-Hacks.png" border="0" /></a><br/>Source: <a href="https://www.hearthofgold.com">Hearth Of Gold</a>

Panasonic Microwave Oven Reviews 2020

panasonic microwave oven review

Panasonic is a Japanese electronic appliance brand known for its TVs, hi-fis, and video recording devices. The company also makes quality microwave ovens and offers the latest features in microwave technology including “genius sensor” functions, preset modes and the company’s patented “inverter technology”.

We’ve reviewed and tested the full range of Panasonic microwave ovens to give a comprehensive round up of how useful they are to consumers. We’ve looked at ease of use, reliability, features, and much more to provide thorough analysis of these products and give you the best Panasonic microwave oven reviews.

Panasonic’s newest range of microwave ovens offer an outstanding array of features along with power output that’ll give you rapid cooking times.

Throw in fantastic reliability backed up by a comprehensive one-year warranty and you’ve got a microwave that will last and last.

We’ll start with the most talked about of Panasonic’s microwave components, the so-called “Inverter Technology.”


Inverter Technology: Is it worth it?

Panasonic’s unique, patented “Inverter Technology” affects how low power is delivered.

For normal microwaves, a low power mode like defrosting is achieved through switching the magnetron on and off again. So a 30% power would have something like 3 seconds on full power then 7 seconds off for the duration of the cooking time. While this approximates a 30% power, it is not what people assume the microwave is doing.

Inverter technology uses clever engineering so the magnetron runs at a consistent lower power. So a 30% power would be the magnetron running at 30% of its full capacity.

Food is cooked, defrosted and reheated the way it was meant to be. The result is thoroughly heated food with fewer burnt edges and cool spots.

The inverter tech and low power modes get glowing reviews and are the reason why Panasonic are, for me, the best range of microwaves currently available. But let’s look at some of the other features.


Genius Sensor – Hassle Free Microwaving

Sensor reheating, called “Genius Sensor” by Panasonic, is one of the latest trends in microwave ovens. It’s a way of cooking or reheating automatically, without you having to set a time.

It works by using a humidity sensor that detects water vapor in the air and uses it to determine when the food is at the right temperature.

Why is this good? Well, rather than setting a time and hoping it’s right, you just throw your food in and tell the microwave what it is. Pop back when you hear the “ding” for food that’s perfectly heated with none of the guesswork.

In Panasonic’s case, you have a wide range of 16 different food options for the Genius Sensor.


Power Output

Panasonic does not skimp on power output of its microwave ovens. All their microwaves, even the smallest available have between 1200-1250W, right at the top end of the power range for home microwaves.

This means your new Panasonic microwave will be blazing fast when it comes to cooking, reheating and defrosting. The wattage on a microwave works in a linear fashion, so to give you an idea, a 1250W microwave is near twice the cooking speed of a small 700W one.

For reference, microwave ovens historically have been sold at 700-900W and anything above 1000W is a powerful and fast cooking microwave.


Other features

As a brand that offers microwaves at the top end of the market, Panasonic offers a huge range of features to make cooking easier than ever. We’ve talked about two, here’s a full list of other features you can expect with Panasonic microwaves.

  • Inverter Technology. Delivers a steady stream of low power energy.
  • Genius Sensor. Automatically determines cook and reheat times.
  • Keep Warm option for soups, gravies, and sides.
  • Turbo Defrost. Thaws foods more quickly and evenly.
  • Wide range of powers and sizes.
  • Ten different low power levels.
  • Three separate popcorn settings.
  • 14 different pre-programmed cooking and reheating options.
  • Convenient “+30 seconds” button.

What models are available?

Panasonic has a line of microwaves that offer similar features with different size and price options.

Your options are:

Panasonic Compact – 1200W / 1.2 cubic feet with 13.4″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN686S – 1200W / 1.2 cubic feet with 13.4″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN766S – 1250W / 1.6 cubic feet with 15″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN966S – 1250W / 2.2 cubic feet with 16.5″ turntable

The Panasonic range covers a wide spectrum of sizes with the 2.2 cu.ft being massive (check it’ll fit in your kitchen!) while also offering more modest sizes around 1.1-1.2 cu.ft. Do note that it doesn’t offer any microwaves on the small end down at 07 cu.ft, you’ll have to look at other maunfacturers if that’s the only size that you can squeeze into your home.


Reliability

We all want appliances that work and stay working. And no one wants to spend a Sunday afternoon researching warranties and parts lists for a microwave oven…

In this case, I’m happy to state that Panasonic has a fantastic reputation for reliability with its microwave ovens.

Reports of breakdowns and other faulty parts are reassuringly rare. All Panasonic microwave ovens are guaranteed with a full 1-year warranty a 5-year warranty on the magnetron.

Customer service is also well regarded, any issues are dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

This is all reflected in Panasonic’s excellent ratings across review sites with a stellar 4.3 or 4.4 stars for all its current models on Amazon.


Overall

I can safely and wholeheartedly recommend the Pansonic range of microwaves for the following reason:

  1. Fantastic features like Inverter Technology and the Genius Sensor make cooking faster and easier than ever.
  2. Blazing fast cooking times from its high wattage power.
  3. Superb reliability and long warranty length.

You can check out the flagship Panasonic model here.

Any downsides? Well, there are no true budget options. If the Panasonic line seems a bit out of your price range then check out my article here for more affordable microwave ovens.

Best Brand For Microwave 2020 (Six Companies Reviewed!)

best brand for microwave

When buying a new microwave, it pays to look at the brand you are buying from. While every home needs a microwave in the kitchen for reheating, defrosting and all types of nuking… with the right purchase you can get cool extras with your oven like sensor reheating, inverter technology or even little pre-programmed options like a “pop popcorn” or “melt chocolate” button.

Best Overall: Panasonic Microwave Ovens
Best Budget: Toshiba Microwave Ovens
Best With Grill Element: Samsung Microwave Ovens
Best Over-The-Range: LG Neochef Microwave Ovens
Excellent Mid-Range: Black & Decker Microwave Ovens
Cheapest: Kenmore Microwave Ovens

This article will analyze and compare all the top manufacturers of microwaves. We’ve researched and compiled from countless different microwaves and brands, testing them on buying factors like ease of use, reliability, features, and range of options to provide a comprehensive round up of the best consumer recommendations.

Let’s begin, shall we?


1
Panasonic – BEST OVERALL

Panasonic’s newest range of microwave ovens offer an outstanding array of features along with power output that’ll give you rapid cooking times. Throw in fantastic reliability backed up by a comprehensive one-year warranty and you’ve got a microwave that will last and last.

Panasonic offers powerful and larger microwave ovens, geared up towards the higher end of the market. A typical Panasonic microwave offers 1250W of power. This means your food gets cooked FAST, offering nearly double the power and half the cooking time of a 700W microwave.

The models of Microwave offered by Panasonic are:

Panasonic Compact – 1200W / 1.2 cubic feet with 13.4″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN686S – 1200W / 1.2 cubic feet with 13.4″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN766S – 1250W / 1.6 cubic feet with 15″ turntable
Panasonic NN-SN966S – 1250W / 2.2 cubic feet with 16.5″ turntable

You’ll notice that you get some truly huge microwaves in there suitable for large cooking purposes. On the other hand, the smallest microwave from Panasonic is medium-sized, you don’t really get a budget small option with this brand. Each microwave has a slightly different keypad layout with some even giving you the option of a dial input. Click the link to check them out.

Panasonic are very proud of their patented Inverter Technology. For defrosting and other low power modes, microwave ovens usually switch on and off repeatedly to approximate a lower power. You can even hear it as the magnetron turns off and on again.

Well, with Inverter Technology, the magnetron runs at a true low power that delivers more consistently heated and better cooked food.

Another of Panasonic’s trademark features is its “turbo defrost” which defrosts and thaw foods in a fraction of the time.

Other goodies include a “keep warm” button for gravies and soups, sensor heating that takes the guesswork out of reheating food and plenty of preset and programmed options.


2
Toshiba – BEST BUDGET

Excellent all round microwave oven that packs a lot in for the money.

Toshiba have a stellar record for reliability of their microwaves.

Not everyone is looking to invest in a quality microwave that has features coming out the wazoo. Sometimes you want a solid option at a modest price point.

My choice for best budget brand of microwave oven is Toshiba. It’s leading models come in at around half the price of Panasonic and other brands in this list yet still offer excellent performance and value for money.

Three of their best selling models are:

Toshiba EM925A5A-SS – 900W / 0.9 cu. ft with 10.6″ turntable
Toshiba EM131A5C-BS – 1100W / 1.2 cu.ft with 12.4″ turntable.
Toshiba EM245A5C-BS – 1250W / 1.6 cu. ft with 13.6″ turntable

This offers you solid power output and fast cooking times. A wattage of 900W is respectable and the 1100W and especially 1250W models occupy the top end of power available in microwaves while still being very reasonably costed.

These power levels can be adjusted to 10 different increments (10%, 20%, 30% and so on) to give you full control of defrosting, preheating and other low power cooking methods.

The Toshiba brand of microwaves have a standard design that is replicated across all models. It’s a keypad and timer display that comes in stainless steel or black stainless steel finishes with only the sizes being different. The sizes themselves are a good spread with both small and large microwaves on offer.

In terms of features, all Toshibas come with pre-programmed cooking options as well as a power saving eco mode, child safety lock and mute button for the microwave’s beeping sounds.

One of Toshiba’s models, the 1.5 cubic ft version, includes a built in convection oven at a slightly higher price. This can be a huge space saver for those of you with small apartments or living in dorms. No oven, no problem! You can still make pizzas, potatoes and anything else that needs oven cooking straight from your microwave.


3
Samsung – BEST WITH GRILL ELEMENT

Convection heating element allows for browning and crisping that is not possible in normal microwave ovens.

Beautiful scratch resistant aesthetic with Easyclean surface.

Lots of presets to make your life easier.

Samsung is a huge name in electronics, notably producing the most smartphone sales globally, even beating the giants of Apple. The microwave oven being another field this behemoth of a brand have forayed into.

The Samsung line of microwaves is a solid if unspectacular choice. At first glance, their super modern keypad and LED display is a marvel and the stainless steel exterior and ceramic interior are a gorgeous sight. Unfortunately, this brand of microwave is more style than substance.

The biggest issue with Samsung microwaves is reliability, with numerous reports of faulty parts or of the microwave needing to be replaced. Most people want a microwave oven that sits in the corner of the kitchen and does what it’s told for ten years rather than a flashy one which breaks down, so this is a big mark against the brand.

The main line of Samsung microwaves offer a microwave oven with additional grilling element. A nice feature that lets you brown, crisp and melt in ways that a normal microwave won’t be able to do. Leftover pizza, for example, turns out loads better when reheated in a Samsung.

This is even more useful for those in dorms or small apartments which may not have a fully equipped kitchen. That said, it’s not as hot or powerful as a built in oven and grill and you may get frustrated with its slow cooking speed.

The models offered by Samsung are:

Samsung MG14H3020CM microwave with grill – 950W with 1.4 cu. ft.
Samsung MG11H2020CT microwave with grill – 1000W with 1.1 cu. ft.

Nothing extraordinary here. Above average power levels that will cook food quickly although not at the top of the range of home microwaves. The range of sizes is pretty small mostly occupying the mid-range.

Features-wise you have plenty on offer. I’ve mentioned the grill, but Samsung microwaves give lots of preset options for foods along with sound on/off option, eco standby power saver, useful “+30 seconds” button and ten different power levels.


4
LG – BEST FOR OVER-THE-RANGE

The LG Neochef, with its unique features, will appeal to a certain kind of buyer. Although for my money there are better top end options for microwave ovens.

Their wide range of over-the-range microwave ovens does stand out, though. They are a great brand to consider for customers who are looking for this type of microwave.

LG is another brand that occupy the high end of the microwave ballpark. Famous for their Neochef microwaves, LG has an excellent reputation and back this up with a whole bunch of goodies to make cooking easier than ever.

One of LG’s unique features is the trademarked Easyclean interior which is made of enamel and takes the hassle out of scrubbing off excess food.

Its Smoothtouch design gives an amazing aesthetic to its beautiful microwaves, although it’s unclear if this Smoothtouch is of any benefit other than looks.

LG offer a truly huge range of microwaves, it’s not possible to list all of them here. They have a comprehensive list of over-the-range microwaves, offering a maximum wattage of 1000W, not overly impressive given the cost. Their wide range of countertop microwaves go from 1.1 cubic feet to 2.2 cubic ft which is roughly medium to very, very big – along with a powerful 1200W as a maximum. You can check them out here.

Unfortunately, for all the good stuff about LG they fall short in a couple of areas. Reliability is not flawless. Not terrible, but when you’re paying top dollar for an appliance you want to know it’ll be in good working order for many a year to come.

The last thing you need is to spend your Sunday afternoon sorting out some technical issue with a darn microwave… And sadly LG has more reports than you’d like to see of breakdowns and other issues.

Another minor issue with LGs is that the microwave plays a jingle when the time is up which doesn’t stop until you go and turn it off. It’s a little like what you might hear a washing machine make, it’ll definitely get the backs up of a certain kind of person!


5
Black & Decker – EXCELLENT MID RANGE OPTION

Black & Decker

All features necessary for solid defrosting and other modes.

Range of power settings to choose from.

Excellent value for money.

Black and Decker are a solid brand of microwave that tick off all the boxes. Variety of options, plethora of features, won’t break down on you after six months. They also are aesthetically pleasing with a silver and black stainless steel exterior.

Options available are:

Black & Decker EM720CB7 – 700W with 0.7 cu. ft and 10″ turntable
Black & Decker EM925AB9 – 900W with 0.9 cu. ft and 10.6″ turntable
Black & Decker EM720CB7 – 1000W with 1.1 cu. ft and 12.4″ turntable
Black & Decker EM720CB7 – 1000W with 1.4 cu. ft and 12.4″ turntable

The brand offers a range of microwaves, mostly in the cheaper and smaller part of the spectrum. The massive microwaves some brands offer are absent, although the top end 1000W is a solid power output that’ll have you cooking a reheating in quick time.

Black & Decker microwaves come with a standard six presets which feels a little low for anything above a budget microwave. While you can still do things like soften butter, melt chocolate or pop popcorn with any microwave, having a preset makes it that bit more convenient.

Any issues? Well, the keypads are dark and are not lit up from behind. If you plan to put your Black and Decker brand microwave in a darker part of the kitchen, you might have a tough time reading what the buttons say.


6
Kenmore – CHEAPEST OPTION

Kenmore

Kenmore offer the cheapest microwaves in this list while still being a solid bet for a reliable option.

Range of features is limited and power and size will be on the lower end of the scale.

The Kenmore brand of microwaves inhabit the budget end of the spectrum, producing decent, reliable microwaves that will be considered a good purchase if not a great one.

In terms of budget, Kenmore actually produces the cheapest microwaves looked at for this article. In particular, the 0.7 cubic ft is a simple, no frills microwave oven that’ll do everything asked of it.

The models they offer are:

Kenmore 70722 0.7 cu. ft 700 Watts
Kenmore 70923 0.9 cu. ft 900 Watts

These microwaves are small, with 0.7 cubic feet being about as small as you can make a microwave while still being able to fit food inside it! The power levels are modest too, with longer cooking times being expected than the more expensive brands.

Taking it all into account though, Kenmore rates well as a budget brand for microwaves. It has good reliability, with reports of faulty parts or breakdowns rare and backed up by excellent general ratings on Amazon of 4.2/4.3 stars.

The brand also packs a decent punch in terms of features, especially when considering the price. You get one touch presets for the most common foods with all their microwaves, and you can also use the Auto Defrost setting, ten power levels and a “+30 second” button on the 0.9 cubic feet model.

Buyer’s Guide For Best Microwave

Necessary Features

Wattage

Your first and most important decision when choosing a microwave is to decide what amount of watts is necessary. The wattage of a microwave is a measure of its power, or more simply, how fast it cooks.

Generally speaking, the more the better. A higher wattage cooks things more quickly, a huge advantage whether you’re preparing a meal for ten people or just reheating yesterday’s leftovers.

The upper end of microwaves at around 1300W are almost twice as fast as the 700W or 800W microwaves you might be used to.

One caveat is that instructions and cooking times on packaged meals are for microwaves in the 700-900W range. However, you can simply reduce the power for most microwaves or just work out the time difference.

For example, a cooking time of 3 minutes (180 seconds) at 900W can be converted into 1200W using the following equation.

You might wonder why anyone would get a low wattage microwave. The technology used in microwaves gets exponentially more expensive to produce those higher wattages. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the extra power is worth the cost.

Dial or keypad

Microwaves use either a rotating dial or a keypad for input.

The keypad is the modern option. You have an LED display showing the remaining time and a plethora of buttons that offer different features or preset options.

A dial-based microwave is more simple and provides less information. You spin the dial to the amount of time you want. It’s tricky when doing smaller cooking times and doing increments of 30 seconds is often a guessing game!

Although nowadays you see some modern microwaves offer a dial input and LED display.

This option is useful for those who might have issues with a button-based input such as the disabled or elderly.

Size / Capacity

The standard measurement for size of microwaves in the USA is using cubic feet. Personally, I find this clunky and unhelpful. Here’s a rule of thumb to make sense of this measurement.

0.7 cubic feet – small microwave
1-1.5 cubic feet – normal-sized microwave
1.7+ cubic feet – larger microwave

It’s easier to judge size based on the diameter of the turntable on which you place your food. All microwaves I have reviewed have this diameter in the listing for your convenience.

To work out if a microwave will fit in your kitchen, it is best to use the dimensions of length, width, and height. These are available on any Amazon listing you can find by clicking on the links in the article.

Material

The materials that make up the inner components of the microwave oven are standardized across the industry. For example. the inner panels of the microwave are made from stainless steel which reflects the radio waves (or microwaves) and prevents them from leaving the oven. They are the same in all microwave ovens.

Typically, the outside body of the microwave is made of aluminum which is strong and cheap. In terms of buying a microwave, you don’t need to think too deeply about the material it is made from.

Power Levels

You won’t always want to use your microwave at full power. For example, one neat trick you can do with the microwave is to run it at 10% power to make beautiful and warm melted chocolate. Some microwaves give you more control over power settings than others.

The standard in modern microwaves is to have ten “power levels” where a five corresponds to 50% and a nine to 90% and so on. This gives you a lot of control.

On the other hand, you also come across microwaves that simply offer “medium” and “medium-low” heat, sometimes without even telling you the percentage of the full power that it’s using.

Optional Features

Inverter Technology

Older and cheaper microwaves have a peculiar quirk when using low power modes. For example, when using a 50% power they will not run at 50% power but will alternate between 100% power and then 0% power. This shortcut is not ideal and can lead to unevenly cooked food.

The issue is that the magnetron, the “engine” of a microwave, can either be turned on or off. Creating a microwave that can produce a steady stream of lower power requires a touch of tech wizardry.

You need to decide if it’s worth the investment to have this “inverter technology” for low power modes like defrosting, softening, melting and so on.

Sensor Reheating

Sensor heating is one of the highlights of modern microwave technology and takes the guesswork out of cooking and reheating.

Essentially, the microwave can detect moisture levels in the food and use this to calibrate precisely how much cooking time is needed. You select the type of food as different foods have different moisture profiles.

No need to put in an amount of time. In fact, some microwaves tell you how long is left before your food is ready.

Sensor technology can be used for reheating but also for cooking some foods from scratch. A valuable feature you may want to splash the cash for in your new microwave oven.

“Keep Warm”

The “keep warm” feature can be a lifesaver for a busy cook trying to juggle cooking five different things at once. Put this setting on and the microwave will keep gravy, soup, desserts or anything else at a steady heat, giving you room to manage the finer points of the meal.

Power saving / eco mode

An “eco mode” offers a reduction of up to 50% of the power used in standby mode, helping you to take a little off your electric bill and do your bit for the environment.

What an “eco mode” cannot do is reduce the amount of power used to cook food. The magnetron uses power at the output of the wattage itself and cannot be made more efficient.

Child safety lock

A microwave with a child safety lock will allow you to “lock” the microwave from being turned on when not in use. This can stop children from fiddling with a potentially dangerous appliance.

Sound on/off option

A “sound on/off” button will turn electric sounds off when selecting options or time and also when the food is finished. Handy for those who share living arrangements to mute the constant buzz of sounds.

“Soften”/”Melt”

A “soften” or “melt” button on a microwave allows you to soften butter or melt chocolate with a single touch. All microwaves have this capability with their low power modes, but a standalone button takes the guesswork out of it.

Convection Oven

A microwave with an in-built convection oven offers a great all-in-one appliance for those in dorms or with small kitchens where a separate oven is not an option. It can fulfill almost all the functions of a traditional oven but will rarely be as powerful. The cost is bumped up a fair bit, too.